Sunday, June 18, 2006

Last Night's Movie: Week-End in Havana (1941)

WEEK-END IN HAVANA is an enjoyable Fox musical trifle which finds Macy's shopgirl Alice Faye's long-awaited Caribbean cruise vacation off to a bad start when her ship runs aground. John Payne is the shipping company executive who must show her a good time in Cuba in order to prevent her from suing the company. Payne and Faye also costarred in TIN PAN ALLEY (1940) and HELLO FRISCO, HELLO (1943).

The movie's finest attribute may be its eye-popping Technicolor, which shows off Faye's stunning wardrobe -- as well as costar Carmen Miranda's typically unusual headgear -- to perfection. (We're told Faye's character could afford such a wardrobe on her budget as she'd been saving and wearing old clothes for years...) The musical highlight is Faye's dreamy rendition of "Tropical Magic," and the unique Miranda has plenty of screen time as well. Cesar Romero and Cobina Wright, Jr., round out the supporting cast.

The film clocks in at a breezy 80 minutes, which is just right given the film's very slight plot. It's a great example of '40s Hollywood escapist entertainment, which must have been very welcome to those worrying about the storm clouds brewing when it first played in 1941.

Director Walter Lang also directed STATE FAIR, reviewed here last weekend.

WEEK-END IN HAVANA is available on DVD as part of the Fox Marquee Musicals series. Extras include a commentary, stills gallery, and the trailer. The movie is also available on video.

July 2014 Update: I've revisited WEEK-END IN HAVANA and posted a more detailed review.


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